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June 2022

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Note we have changed the format to place articles in sections on one topic and all articles are dated so you know if we repeat one - which we often do when we think it's very important!


DIY FTTH Now The Norm
FOA Network Design Certification
Example of Rural Broadband
NTIA Notice of Funding Opportunity
Should You Trust This Website?
Underground Construction Can Be Disruptive
Everybody Can Use Fiber U

Newsletter Sections

Click on any link to jump to that section

POF Conference In Spain
California Middle Mile Network Specs
Fiber Optic Sensors Monitor Mt. Etna Volcano
AT&T, Corning Fiber Training Program

Useful New Products
Aerial cables
Measuring Loss - dB Again

Warning For Techs About Fiber Amplifiers
FOA Online Loss Budget Calculator

Worth Reading  Lots of interesting articles

Q&A    Questions from our readers

Training/FiberU Beware Of Fake FOA School,  New FOA-Approved Schools, Fiber U MiniCourses, making training classroom safe, onine training, materials, more
Resources New FOA YouTube Videos.  Safety  


FOA Certifications: 

CFOT Total

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?
Special offer - 1/3 Off Renewal

See FOA Jobs Web Page and FOA on FOA on LinkedIn
The FOA Jobs Web Page has been updated and a new page added on Using your FOA Training/Certification to Find the Right Job in Fiber Optics

Where Are The Jobs In Fiber Optics? FOA talks about all the applications for fiber optics, what jobs involve and the qualifications for the workers in the field in this YouTube video.

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Trademarks: The FOA CFOT® (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and Fiber U® (the FOA online self-study program) are registered trademarks of the FOA.
FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.

 FOA Reference Books
Available Printed or eBooks
The fiber book is available in Spanish and French

FOA Reference
                          Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA
                          Reference Guide to Premises Cablng book FOA
                          Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics book FOA
                          Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book
FOA Reference
                          Guide to Fiber Optic Network Design book FOA Book
                        on Fiber Optic Testing FOA
                            Outside Plant Fiber Optics Construction
                            Guide  Lennie Lightwave

Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are now also available as free iBooks on iTunes.
                        Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle
                        Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.
Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

FOA Videos on videos

FOA is a member of:

TIA Online
FTTH Council

The FOA Newsletter is edited by Jim Hayes - send your stories, leads, ideas, comments to <jim @>
Jim Hayes

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Top Stories From The 2021 FOA Newsletters

The Archives: Past Issues.
Use these links to read past issues or use FOA's  Custom Search to look for specific topics on our website.
1/22, 2/22, 3/22, 4/22, 5/22, 6/22,   
1/21, 2/21. 3/21, 4/21, 5/21, 6/21, 7/21, 8/21, 9/21, 10/21, 11-12/21,      
1/20, 2/20, 3/20. 4/205/20, 6/20, 7/20, 8/20, 9/2010/20, 11/20, 12/20
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1/16, 2/16, 3/16,  4/16, 5/166/167-8/16, 9/16, 10/16, 11/16, 12/16     
1/15, 2/15, 3/15, 4/15, 5/15, 6/15, 7/15, 8/15, 9/15 , 10/1511/15 , 12/15
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1/132/13, 3/13, 4/13, 5/13, 6/13, 7/13, 8/13, 9/13, 10/13, 11/1312/13 
1/12 , 2/12, 3/12, 4/12, 6/12, 7/12, 8/12, 9/12, 10/12, 11/12, 12/12   
1/11 ,  2/11,  3/11,  4/11,  6/11, 7/11, 8/11,  9/11, 10/11, 11/11,  12/11,  
1/10 ,  2/10, 3/10,  4/10,   05/10,  07/10, 08/10,  09/10,  10/10, 11/10 
1/09 ,  2/09,  3/09, 04/09,  05/09,  07/09, 08/09, 09/09, 10/09, 11/09,  12/09
1/08 , 2/08, 3/08, 4/08, 5/08,  6/08, 7/08, 8/08, 09/0810/08, 11/08,  12/08 
12/07 , 11/07, 10/07, 09/07, 08/07, 07/07, 06/07, 05/07, 04/07, 03/07, 2/07, 1/07
12/06 , 11/06, 10/06, 09/06, 8/06, 7/06, 6/06, 5/06, 4/06, 3/06, 2/06, 1/06,
12/05 ,11/05, 10/05, 09/05, 08/05, 07/05, 6/05, 5/05, 4/05, 2/05, 01/05,
12/04 , 10/04, 9/04, 8/04, 7/04, 6/04, 5/04, 4/04, 3/04, 1/04,
12/03 , 11/03 10/03 9/03, 8/03, 7/03, 6/03, 3/03, 10/02 , 8/02, 5/02

Current Issue of FOA Newsletter

Time To Renew Your FOA Certifications?

To keep your FOA certifications active, you need to renew them when they expire. Now we have a new more convenient way to renew - an online store at Paypal - where you can quickly and conveniently use your PayPal account or your credit card to renew your certifications.

You can now renew with PayPal or a credit card
PayPal is available worldwide

Join FOA On  Social Media

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has 3 LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official page on LinkedIn - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)

DIY (Do It Yourself) FTTH Has Become The "Norm"

Eight years ago, when real estate developer Greg Turton contacted FOA asking if he could built his own FTTH network since no traditional service provider was interested, FOA already knew enough to help him get started. Not long afterwards, Kevin Short of the Anza Electrical Co-op asked a similar question, we were even better prepared. Since then, we've lost count of the hundreds of people and organizations who have contacted FOA with similar requests. We even added DIY FTTH to the FOA Guide to help people understand that they can "do it themselves."

Southern FiberWorx  Anza

Southern Fiberworx, Greg's FTTH ISP, and Connect ANZA were not the first DIY FTTH networks. The beginnings of DIY FTTH were in cities where the incumbent service providers were offering unsatisfactory service and were unwilling to provide upgrades.

The level of Internet service that was expected had moved upwards after Verizon began FiOS service and the Electricity Power Board of Chattanooga built the first FTTH network to offer subscribers 1G - gigabit Internet. Google came along about the same time, promising gigabit FTTH and over 1,000 cities responded to Google's offer of building the network for one lucky city.

Municipalities and utilities in the US which were willing to step up and build their own networks encountered considerable roadblocks - especially from the incumbents. The lobbyists for the major service providers got many states to pass laws preventing public organizations from building broadband networks to challenge the incumbents monopolies and 19 states still have those laws on the books. Those that took the option to the voting public for approval often encountered high-priced opposition campaigns from the incumbents, often based on misinformation, and most lost the votes needed to proceed with their own networks.

Private organizations like real estate developers, homeowners associations and rural coops did not encounter those issues. For them it was more a matter of finding the money and vendors to partner with them. And avoiding consultants who were either incompetent or unscrupulous. One group had a consultant take a large payment only to come back and tell them they could not help them, but kept their money. Several provided potential system designs that were inappropriate and unnecessarily costly. We sat through a presentation by one group in a small town that obviously had something to sell.

But many of the hundreds of contacts FOA has had in the last decade have gone ahead and built very successful DIY FTTH networks, not only in the US but all around the world. Many tell us they have used the FTTH Section of the FOA Guide and the free FTTH online training at Fiber U to get started properly, train their people and successfully complete their projects.

We expect to see many more DIY FTTH projects in the future. The events of the last few years have shown the importance of broadband and the FTTH networks needed to deliver it. In the US massive government funding is going to be made available for building networks in unserved and underserved areas.

Along with the money will come plenty of consultants to help you get and spend it. It is well known that we lack sufficient numbers of qualified fiber optic techs to build these networks, but we also lack qualified consultants who can design networks and oversee their construction. At least with techs, we have FOA CFOT certification to qualify them. For consultants, perhaps they should be expected to have the FOA CFOS/D Design certification. Read on....

Did You Know The FOA Has A Fiber Optic Network Design Certification?

Fiber Optic Network Design

 CFOS/D – Certified Fiber Optic Specialist in Network Design - is the FOA certification appropriate for designers of fiber optic communications systems. This is a specialist certification covering the planning, design and management of installation of fiber networks. The KSAs for CFOS/D cover fiber optic network design from concept to completion.

This is a conceptual course, not a course on using CAD or GIS to do the actual design. It covers the process of designing a fiber optic network from concept to operation, including what communications are needed, the routing of the links, the processes of physical design including choosing components, choosing contractors, supervising the building of the project, documentation - a project from start to finish.

The CFOS/D certification can be very useful for network owners, IT personnel, facilities managers, supervisors, network designers, estimators or technicians involved in the design or installation of fiber networks. This course is especially recommended for network owners and planners who may not be familiar with the process of fiber optic network design as it can make their jobs easier and their projects better - and help them when working with consultants and contractors.

The FOA Design certification course is often taught along with a CFOS/H FTTH course when network owners are building their first FTTH networks.
A CFOT or equivalent basic knowledge of fiber optics and communications networks is helpful for taking this course but not required. A review of the basics of fiber optics is included in the course for those with no background in fiber optics.

The online design course is on Fiber U and like all the online courses, free.

Example Of Rural Broadband Confirms FOA Article

Back in the March FOA Newsletter, we ran an article "More Thoughts On Broadband For Rural Areas" where we showed a map on the state of Missouri showing how many unserved and underserved areas are in a typical state. This month,  Telecompetitor ran a news item "Gateway Fiber Awarded $10 Million Grant to Expand Missouri Broadband."

Wright City, MO — Wright City-based Gateway Fiber has been awarded $10 million as part of a $42 million grant to the State of Missouri from the National Telecommunications Information Administration (NTIA) to expand broadband internet coverage in underserved communities. Gateway received the largest share of this funding state-wide.

The US Department of Commerce (DOC) announced in late February that Missouri will receive the grant money to expand broadband coverage in several communities where residents do not currently have access to high-speed internet.

Locally, the grant funds will allow Gateway Fiber to reach nearly 5,000 homes and businesses in underserved communities in Lincoln and St. Charles County, including areas surrounding St. Paul, Josephville, Winfield, Moscow Mills, and Old Monroe. Through Gateway’s future-proof fiber optic network, these areas will be able to access the internet with hyper-fast symmetrical speeds up to 1 Gig, the same fast speeds available in major metropolitan areas.

Here is a map of those 5 communities:


While these communities were in the unserved or underserved areas, they are only ~50 miles (~80km) from the major city of St. Louis.

Here are their populations (2010):
St. Paul     1,829
Josephville    376
Winfield      1,404
Moscow Mills    2,509
Old Monroe    265
These are exactly the kinds of towns we are referring to as "rural;" small towns are where the bulk of the rural population lives, not on farms.

The Cost
And the numbers are right in line with what we expect: $10 million for connecting 5,000 homes and businesses is $2,000 per subscriber, what we expect for rural broadband networks and, almost the same cost that was quoted for AT&T to connect up homes in Oldham County, KY Kentucky as reported in theNews section of the May FOA Newsletter.

Interesting Reading:

The NTIA Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) - ONLY FTTH Projects Need Apply

You are going to see the term "NTIA NOFO" a lot now. It will refer to the document describing the NTIA $43billion fund for broadband. If you are at all interested in the program, we suggest you download a copy and read it yourself. We did and found it extremely interesting.

The first thing we did was to search the PDF file for "fiber" to see if fiber optics was called out specifically. We found 10 locations where fiber was mentioned and we found these most interesting reading:

Page 7:
With respect to the deployment of last-mile broadband infrastructure, the Program prioritizes projects designed to provide fiber connectivity directly to the end user.

Page 14:
The term “Priority Broadband Project” means a project that will provision service via end-to-end fiber-optic facilities to each end-user premises.(Footnote 9)

Footnote 9: A project that will rely entirely on fiber-optic technology to each end-user premises will ensure that the network built by the project can easily scale speeds over time to meet the evolving connectivity needs of households and businesses and support the deployment of 5G, successor wireless technologies, and other advanced services.

Page 42:
NTIA has determined that “Priority Broadband Projects” are those that use end-to-end fiber-optic architecture. Only end-to-end fiber will “ensure that the network built by the project can easily scale speeds over time to ... meet the evolving connectivity needs of households and businesses” and “support the deployment of 5G, successor wireless technologies, and other advanced services.

There will be fiber: that's very important to those seeking grants and to organizations like the FOA who will be involved in OJT and workforce development for these projects.

Page 66: (Dig Once is called out also)
Any Funded Network deployment project that involves laying fiber-optic cables or conduit underground or along a roadway must include interspersed conduit access points at regular and short intervals for interconnection by unaffiliated entities. Where a project proposes to lay conduit, Eligible Entities shall require prospective subgrantees to propose to deploy a reasonable amount of excess conduit capacity and to propose a conduit access point interval as part of the grant application process and shall consider the adequacy of the prospective subgrantee’s proposed excess conduit capacity and access points when evaluating the application.

Download your copy here: NTIA Notice of Funding Opportunity  

Another NTIA page that is very useful is the NTIA "Broadband USA" page. It has a comprehensive listing of all the state broadband offices and a very good FAQs page.

Should You Trust A Website Called "" ?

Almost immediately after the IIJA broadband program was announced, a website called "" popped up. Yes there is a higher level domain like "com," "net" and "org" called "money" and you can guess what this is all about - money. The home page with the photo of $100 bills just screams "GREED!!!"

money describes itself on its home page as "The fastest way to discover and win broadband grants." Then they invite you to "Enroll today to find and win funding in your territory." To participate in this - whatever it is - requires a very trusting - or perhaps gullible - person. There is no indication of what or who is behind the website or what they are peddling. The domain of the website,  "" is registered privately, so there is no information on the backers.

There is an email contact given, so we contacted them for more information and they responded. It turns out to be the creation of a Silicon valley software company called which sells software to ISPs but has a division that is a venture capital organization. It is unclear what expertise they bring to the process they are offering, although one of the people involved is familiar with Tribal affairs.

In our contacts with them, we have encouraged then to be more open about their motives. In the meantime, you can use the website to find the contacts for each state's broadband office:   (but the
NTIA "Broadband USA" page looks more comprehensive.

If you are looking for trustworthy information, we suggest you contact the Pew Charitable Trusts group.

Another startup organization, American Association For Public Broadband, is comprised of actual municipal broadband organizations aiming to build their own DIY broadband systems. According to an article in Community Networks, "AAPB will have a more focused role by helping to facilitate better communication between local, state, and federal officials as, historically, lawmakers have almost exclusively been advised by the lobbyists and trade associations who represent the monopoly interests of Big Telecom."
“Our board is comprised of municipal officials. There are no vendors on our board or incumbents. This is an organization for public officials responsible for broadband projects.”

Help In Remembering Color Codes (More Free Stuff From FOA)

Recently FOA was asked if we knew of a pocket guide to fiber optic color codes. We did not but recommended the page on color codes in the FOA Online Guide, easily read on your smart phone of tablet. But the idea of a pocket guide seemed to make good sense, so we made one ourselves, as you can see here.

FOA Color Code Card  FOA Color Code Card

The FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Color Codes covers the basic color codes for fibers and buffer tubes plus connectors and cables. On the back, we added QR codes to link you to the FOA Online Guide for technical information and Fiber U for free online learning.

FOA is sending these free to every new CFOT and every CFOT renewal in the US and Canada. So when you get your FOA ID card, you get a FOA Color Code pocket guide. Sorry we can't mail these outside the US, but we will share the design with our schools around the world so they can make them locally for their students too.

Print Your Own:
FOA Print your own Color Code Guide Card
Go to the Color Codes page in the FOA Guide. Follow the links to download the PDF files for either a pocket size version you can print on a color printer, cut out and fit in a pocket or a full page version you can save to your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Underground Construction Can Be Extremely Disruptive

Sometimes we write about how several methods of underground construction like microtrenching and directional boring can be done with minimal disruption. But when things go wrong, they can be very disruptive - and dangerous.  We've run photos of directional boring being done in downtown Santa Monica before, noting how it can be done with precision, the driller following a tech with underground locating equipment to ensure avoiding buried utilities.

But sometimes things go wrong. On May 3rd, a fiber optic construction crew boring in he same area as the work we reported on in the FOA Newsletter in October 2019 hit a 2 inch (50mm) gas line causing a leak that took more than two hours to shut off. The Santa Monica Fiber Department required all businesses in the area - the primary shopping area in downtown Santa Monica - to close for the afternoon.  Santa Monica Daily Press.

Gas line puncture in Santa Monica  May 2022
Directional boring punctured 2" gas line in downtown Santa Monica (Photo by Emily Sawicki, Santa Monica Daily Press)

This is not the only time Santa Monica has been shut down by fiber optic construction crews hitting gas lines. A year ago in the May 2021 FOA Newsletter we reported that a fiber contractor made an even bigger mistake - they hit a 16 inch (400mm) high pressure gas main. Quick action by the Santa Monica Fire Department closed the area off and shut down electrical service to prevent a major fire or explosion. FOA was unable to get any details on how such a serious hit could occur.

The fact that two such events could happen in a major city like Santa Monica shows how big a problem urban construction can be. Prevention requires vigilance, careful understanding of documented underground utilities and continuous active location during the boring process.

Who Can Use Fiber U? Everybody Can Use Fiber U!

Last month in the FOA Newsletter we had an article discussing the free Fiber U online courses and how they can be used to help learn more about fiber optics. We want to emphasize one point - FOA is free to anyone and everyone. You don't need to be Certified by the FOA or be an FOA Approved school to use Fiber U.

When the FOA was founded in 1995, our charter was "to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards." The founders wanted to provide educational resources for the industry that would benefit everyone. Many of the founders were manufacturers who recognized the need for an umbrella certification that would help them in offering their own installer certifications for their warranty programs. It would help educate their customers to simplify the process of working with them to design, procure components and install their networks.

Fiber U is a major part of the FOA's commitment to the fiber optic industry. It's one of the services we provide free to the industry and is often credited as a major contributor to the growth of the workforce that is essential to our industry.

FOA also makes available a "Certificate of Completion" for those wanting or needing evidence they have completed the course successfully. The Certificate of Completion test uses our online testing service and has a nominal cost for the test.

FOA welcomes everyone to use the free courses at Fiber U.
  • We strongly encourage fiber installers who are learning by OJT to use Fiber U to help their technical knowledge and abilities to grow.
  • All schools are welcome to use Fiber U, even if you do not offer certification with your courses; right down to the high school level.
  • Employers, you can use Fiber U to build your workforce and make them more productive. In today's world, hiring experienced fiber techs is hard - they are all busy right now - but hiring novices and training them by OJT using FOA's "OJT to Cert" program can help solve your personnel problems.

Fiber U
Everybody's welcome to use Fiber U.

The FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Projects includes this timeline and comments on project planning and implementation.

FOA Broadband Planning Page. The FOA has a page devoted to understanding the IIJA and how to obtain help in planning and funding broadband projects.

More FOA Resoures

FOA Newsletter Sections

News     Technical    Worth Reading    Q&A    Training/FiberU    Resoures    Safety   About


Lots more news in Worth Reading below

FOA Welcomes Another New School This Month:
Western Wyoming Community College, FOA Approved School #401

POF Conference To Be Held In Bilbao, Spain In September

POF 2022

The 30th International Conference on Plastic Optical Fibers (POF2022) will be held in Bilbao, Spain from September 26 to 28 at the University of the Basque Country.

The abstract submission for POF2022 is now open. Submit your abstract and present your latest achievements and findings at the conference. Visit Call for Papers at for more details. If you have any questions, please contact POF2022 Technical Program Committee at email:

Joseba Zubia

Program Committee Chair


The California Department of Technology (CDT) released its draft map and design recommendations for the proposed statewide broadband middle mile network. The map outlines nearly 9,000 miles of infrastructure intended to serve as a backbone for last-mile connection projects to underserved and unserved communities throughout the state.

The link will take you to a very complete description of the network which should be of interest to contractors in CA (obviously) but others may learn a lot about how complex networks are designed.

Golden State Net Network details. (PDF)

Fiber Optic Sensor Monitors Volcanic Activity At Mt. Etna In Sicliy

Dr. Philippe Jousset, a scientist and researcher with the GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences (Potsdam, Germany), and Gilda Currenti, a researcher at Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology developed a method for monitoring seismic activity around volcanoes using fiber-optic cables as sensors analyzing the light backscattered in the cables when deformed by vibrations. The technique—distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) with optical fibers—allows for more accurate identification of volcanic events remotely and image hidden near-surface volcanic structural features.

fiber optic acoustic sensor

Putting their research into practice, the team is monitoring one of the world’s most active volcanos, Mount Etna in Sicily, Italy. They have been able to detect and characterize strain signals associated with explosions in Mount Etna and locate their origin with a 2D template matching picked and theoretical wave arrival times. Wavefield separation has enabled researchers to “incrementally investigate the ground response to various excitation mechanisms,” and “identify very small volcanic events” related to fluid migration and degassing.

Read more in Laser Focus World Magazine online 

Wired Magazine also had a good overview of using fiber optic cables as sensors.

FOA Had A BUSY 2021

Below is a summary of some of the FOA accomplishments from 2021:

Top Stories From 2021 FOA Newsletters
Last Gasp For Multimode Fiber?  
Who Lost Lucent? The Decline of America's Telecom Industry. 
Things To Learn From A Town That Voted Down Fiber
Can Tapping Fiber Reduce Cost? 
How Many Fibers? Optimal cable Size. 
Women Installers In Alaska. 
FOA OJT To Cert Program
FTTH Month - June FOA Newsletter.
Building Rural FTTH - Learning From The History Of Rural Electrification
New FOA Guidelines For Training And Certification
Warning For Techs Doing Restoration (Fiber Amplification).

New Pages In The FOA Guide
Fiber Optic Sources For Transmitters
Midspan Access
Loss Budget Calculator - Online
FTTH Network Design. (plus updated pages in the FTTH section)

New Fiber U Courses
Fiber Characterization.
Basic Fiber Optics in Spanish
FTTH Update (Get the Certificate of Completion Free!)
Loss Budgets
How Fiber Works
Fiber Optic Color Codes
Reference Cables For Fiber Optic Testing
Basic Skills Labs - Link Demos

New FOA Publications
FOA FTTH Handbook.

New YouTube Lectures
FOA Lecture 61 Fiber Optic Color Codes    
FTTH Series
Lecture 63 FTTH Network Architectures  


On fiber optic technology, standards, equipment, installation, etc.

The FOA Update Page covers all the new technology and applications we covered in this newsletter recently. Now you can review all that new tech at once.


Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Useful Gadget For Installing Patchcords Indoors

Sometimes completing a FTTH home install or even a commercial project requires running patchcords through walls or conduit. The problem is how to do this without damaging the connector. Here is a gadget that was designed to protect the connector on a patchcord in that kind of install.


It's a plastic cover for a SC connector that provides protection and connection to pulling rods or ropes/tapes. It's very small so a small hole is all that's necessary to pull the cable. For FTTH PON installs where only one fiber is needed, this seems to be a really useful tool.

More info and video demo at  PulR Technologies

FTTH Update In South Africa

Joe Botha of Triple Play Fiber Optics in South Africa sent us a note to update us on what their FTTH network providers are at-present doing in SA, using Nokia OLT’s and ONT’s.

Equipment has a 38 dB power budget: Tx +6 dBm & Rx -32dBm.
They do a cascaded split consisting of:
     x2 at the OLT.
     x4 at the distribution cabinet.
    x16 at distribution points close to the homes = 128.
The obtainable distance: for a x64 fiber split = 27km and a x128 fiber split = 10km.
That's impressive and certainly expands the reach of a FTTH PON.

Joe and his instructors are teaching courses in SA regularly now using basic guidelines for pandemic safety. Here's a recent course classroom:

Class Joburg

VIAVI Introduces FiberComplete PRO Automated Fiber Tester


VIAVI has announced the new FiberComplete PROTM, a unique solution with enhanced automation to significantly reduce time and effort required for almost every aspect of the fiber test and certification process including test setup and data exchange, results analysis and on-board report generation.

Automation in testing has become the way to reduce both test time and requirements for tech training.

Learn more at the VIAVI website.

Anyone with experience using this product please contact FOA - we'd like your comments.

Aerial Cable Plant Installed Properly

aerial donr properly


Kudos to the installers for American Tower who did this really nice install in the San Gabriel Mountains NW of Los Angeles. Note the carefully lashed cables and neatly installed snowshoes and splice closure.

More Aerial Install Photos - No Comment Required...






aerial installer

The Polarity Of Loss

Readers know we've been investigating the strange reversal of polarity for optical loss measured in dB for some time. Here is an interesting pair of definitions from a new international standard adopted in the US.


The thing to note is attenuation or loss is referenced by P(in)/P(out) - e.g. reference to the output signal, not the incoming signal - in the basic equation  The alternate equation  used P(out)/P(in) which which follows scientific and technical convention but adds a negative sign to get the result to be a positive number.


But reflectance and return loss are referenced in relation to the incoming signal, with does follow scientific and technical convention.

No consistency indicates a lack of knowledge of
scientific and technical convention - just a desire to get rid of that pesky negative sign in the meter display. 

Warning For Techs Doing OSP Restoration


FOA recently received an inquiry that was a new one; whether techs working on restoring OSP links should be concerned about eye safety if the link used fiber amplifiers. To answer this question, we had to do some research on fiber amplifiers. The short answer is YES, you should be concerned. The long answer is more technical and includes details that every OSP tech needs to know.

See "Fiber Amps And Restoration" in the FOA Newsletter Archives..

Try The FOA's Online Loss Budget Calculator

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We've created a online Loss Budget Calculator that does the work for you. Just input your cable plant data and it calculates the loss budget. It works on any device, especially smartphones and tablets for field use and even allows printing the results.

                        Loss Budget Calculator

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

Worth Reading

Each month we read hundreds of newsletters and online articles. These are the ones we think you will find "worth reading."

FOA Timeline of Fiber Optic History 

Fiber or copper?  AT&T PR photo from the mid 1970s

The FOA's History

Worth Reading (And Watching):

June 2022

"Outhorse" your email -
Disconnect from work and let the horses of Iceland reply to your emails while you are on vacation. (Seriously - watch the video!)

Recruiting And Training Today's Fiber Optic Workforce -
Learn the fundamentals to recruit and train new fiber optics - by FOA's Jim Hayes in ISE Magazine.

Explosive Fiber Broadband Expansion Drives Need for Fiber Technician Training Programs - Telecompetitot - As fiber sees record-setting deployment levels, the demand for fiber optic technicians is stronger than ever.

todofibraoptica te mantiene informado y actualizado en todo lo relacionado con las telecomunicaciones por fibra óptica.

NTIA Notice of Funding Opportunity   Information from the funding source on applying for US broadband funding

Wired Magazine has a good overview of using fiber optic cables as sensors.

2023 National Electrical Code® - Revisions to Cable Requirements
from CCCA. Requirements for some fiber optic cables are moved from
Article 770 to new Article 727.

May 2022

Google Video On Their Undersea Cables YouTube Slick but interesting video on how undersea cables are designed, built and used.

Corning's Sustainability Report 2021  

Dilbert Comic 4/15/22:
Wally solves the fiber optic cable supply chain problem

The Indiana Broadband Office is a one-stop-shop for all things broadband in Indiana. State of Indiana guidelines for community broadband projects.

2022 Submarine Cable Map depicts 486 cable systems and 1,306 landings that are currently active or under construction. Telegeography.

RTI Telecom Magazine from  Brazil, in Portuguese. A revista RTI do mês de abril já está disponível online e recomendo a leitura de alguns artigos: 

Comcast deploys hollow core fiber in low latency, multi-gigabit quest. Light in air goes 50% faster than in glass reducing latency.

Ting, a rapidly-expanding ISP, explains how microtrenching helps them install fiber with minimal disruption.

Mississippi Electrical Coops Rapidly Connecting Rural Users. ILSR Community Networks.

April 2022

CENIC Technology Roundtables - Videos of past webcasts on wIreless and CATV broadband with fiber coming soon. Some of the best reviews of state of the art technology from California's state of the art R&D and education network.

Construction Without Disruption - FOA President Jim Hayes' column in ISE Magazine

State of California Middle-Mile Broadband Initiative - California ALL program

Illinois (and Possibly New York) Poised to Fumble Federal Broadband Funds ILSR Remember the history of incombents getting state laws passed to prevent competition? Well, history repeats itself.

LA County Moves Closer to Municipal Broadband - ILSR Community Networks - WiFi on street lights

March 2022

Every State Has a Chance to Deliver a “Fiber for All” Broadband Future: Electronic Frontier Foundation

CI&M Magazine has a slideshow of bad aerial cable installs in their home area (New Hampshire) and in California (provided by FOA)

New York City: The Case for a Carrier-Neutral Infrastructure - Broadband Communities - "there is growing momentum for open-access infrastructure, which allows multiple providers to compete for customers"

Pew Charitable Trusts has released a couple of new tools for state broadband offices preparing for the influx of federal funding. ILSR

PEW Charitable Trusts has a broadband initiative that aims to help local networks get started.

Lightwave 2-22

Read the latest issue of Lightwave   Covering the OFC Conference, highlights: coherent and 10G PON.

February 2022

Fiber Optics Installed By The Lowest Bidder  - ISE Magazine - by Jim Hayes, FOA President.

Building Broadband During Component and Worker Shortages - Broadband Communities - Completing broadband builds requires competent fiber optic techs, but training them requires understanding how they learn - by Jim Hayes, FOA President.

  dpPro Magazine

The latest Issue of dP-PRO, the "call before you dig" magazine, is online. It's the 2022 Special Locate issue. 

New Fiber Optic Magazine In Spanish

Todo Fibra Optica is a new digital magazine in Spanish for fiber optics in Latin America. Jose Enriquez, editor of  Todo Fibra Optic magazine has many years experience in the fiber optic industry so he knows the industry well. FOA will be working with him to share our extensive technical materials in Spanish.


Latest Issue.

José Manuel Enriquez Mora, Editor
Todo Fibra Optica LLC
+52 222 302 8224

Lightwave Magazine Is Back! 

                      Magazine is back!

Lightwave Magazine is back after many years as only a online newsletter. Lightwave was started in 1984 by Howard Rausch, a veteran newsman, a gentleman and a scholar! (JH) We reported on the demise of the printed version of Lightwave in the FOA Newsletter of March 2009. Lightwave is back as a digital magazine, perfect for the times, and still headed by Editorial Director Stephen Hardy, a veteran of the fiber optic community with great in-dept knowledge of the technology, companies and people who make fiber optics what it is today. Lightwave's comprehensive website continues too. All very worthwhile reading.

Statistics on US Labor In Telecom

Eric Pearson sent us some links to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data on the US Workforce. Granted it was updated in May 2019, but has lots of useful and interesting information on where the work is and what workers are paid.


Read the reports here:

Telecommunications Line Installers and Repairers   (Install and repair telecommunications cable, including fiber optics.

Telecommunications Equipment Installers and Repairers  (Install,
set up, rearrange, or remove switching, distribution, routing, and dialing equipment used in central offices or headends. Service or repair telephone, cable television, Internet, and other communications equipment on customers’ property. May install communications equipment or communications wiring in buildings.

How Much Does A Cable Installer Earn?

1995-2020 - FOA's 25th Anniversary!

As part of celebrating 25 years of serving the fiber optic industry as its primary source of technical information and independent certifying body, FOA thought it appropriate to create a short history of the organization and how it has developed  to help the fiber optic industry. We also wanted to recognize the contributions many people have made to the organization over the years that made FOA what it is today.

The FOA history is now archived on the FOA website where you can read it anytime or link to it.
Updated info - dB, total internal reflection and science projects,

Worth Reading - News Summary - Past Links Worth Repeating

1983 Video of AT&T's First Test Of A Submarine Cable System From the AT&T Tech Channel archives (worth exploring!)

Richard Epworth's Optical Fiber History from his work at STL from 1966 with Charles Kao.

Communications Systems Grounding Rules: Article 800 provides specific requirements  by Michael Johnston,  NECA Executive Director of Standards and Safety in EC Magazine

US Broadband Coverage By Service Provider from the FCC

How To Build Rural Broadband, Learning From History

In the August 2021 FOA Newsletter, we published a lengthy article on rural broadband and compared it to rural electrification in America in the last century. Much of the comparison was based on an article written in 1940 by a USDA economist, Robert Beall, called "Rural Electrification." 

If you are interested in or involved in rural broadband, we recommend you read the article "How To Build Rural Broadband, Learning From History" in the August 2021 FOA Newsletter and read the Beall article also.

Recycling Fiber Optic Cable -
Steve Maginnis
LD4Recycle/ CommuniCom Recycling
(Visit website)

Sumitomo's Ribbon Splicing Guide - download from one of the leaders in splicing.

"Who Lost Lucent?: The Decline of America's Telecom Equipment Industry"
This is a MUST READ for managers in telecom or any industry!

This long and well-researched and annotated article in American Affairs Journal should be mandatory reading for every high level manager in a telecom company - or any other company for that matter. To summarize the article, today, America has no major telecom equipment company and fears the major suppliers of equipment who are all foreign, especially the Huawei from China. This article explains how America got into this deplorable state.

OFS also has an excellent website and blog of tech articles worth browsing.

IEC 60050 - International Electrotechnical Vocabulary - An extensive dictionary for fiber optics in English and French. Highly technical - this is one definition: "mode - one solution of Maxwell's equations, representing an electromagnetic field in a certain space domain and belonging to a family of independent solutions defined by specified boundary conditions"

If you are interested in restoration - aren't we all? - you should also read this article in dpPro magazine by FOA President Jim Hayes: Damage Protection Requies Looking Overheas As Well As Underground - dpPRO Magazine - about the problems with aerial cables. His previous article for the magazine was New Techniques for Fiber Optic Installation.

How much fiber optic cable is manufactured each year? CRU Reports - unsurprisingly China is by far the largest market today

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance weekly newsletter has lots of interesting articles and links.

The Open Technology Institute at New America just published “The Cost of Connectivity 2020,”

US Ignite and Altman Solon issued “Broadband Models for Unserved and Underserved Communities

Universal access to broadband is a cornerstone to a strong economy, Achieving universal access will require community partnerships. by
Alfreda B. Norman, Sr. VP,  Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

FIBER TO THE FARM: The co-ops that electrified Depression-era farms are now building rural internet. Be sure to check out the high-tech equine installation equipment.

Next Century Cities Newsletter - News from cities around the US including Detroit and New York plus small

Infrastructure Get Some Respect, NY TImes "On Tech"   "The magic of the internet requires a lot of very boring stuff behind the scenes. "

DIRT Report On Damage To Utilities Common Ground Alliance (CGA) annual DIRT report provides a summary and analysis of the events submitted into CGA’s Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) for the year 2018. The complete report is available for download here. In addition, there is an interactive dashboard that allows users to filter the data more  by factors contributing to damages.

Structured Cabling News - a website and weekly newsletter about cabling.

The Internet Master Plan for New York City. The New York City Internet Master Plan is a comprehensive framework for the infrastructure and services that provide connectivity to New York City residents and businesses. This Master Plan will guide City actions and public-private partnerships to transform New Yorkers’ access to this essential infrastructure for generations to come.

Fiber Trivia From Corning.

The Future Of Work Is Skills - So Stop Worrying About Degrees - The reality is the future of work is about skills, not just degrees. (FOA Newsletter Feb 2020)

The job market is hot. So why are half of U.S. grads missing out?  

VIAVI Books On Fiber Optic Testing (2 volumes) - They're back!

books  book 2

Besides the FOA reference materials, two JDSU/VIAVI textbooks, Reference Guide to Fiber Optic Testing, Volumes 1 and 2,  were used as references for some of the FOA courses and are recommended for instructors and students. The books are available from VIAVI as eBooks and the everyone should download them and recommend them to others.Download yours now. Volume 1. Volume 2. Viavi Books

Ciena's Submarine Cable Handbooks (4 to download)

Guidebook To MPO Testing OptoTest offers this complete guide to MTP®/MPO testing. In this guide, you will learn all there is to know about the different test methods, equipment options, troubleshooting, and best maintenance practices to ensure that you have the best testing experience. Go here to download the book.

50th Anniversary of The Development of Low Loss Fibers
A history of the development of low loss fiber, a fascinating story by Jeff Hecht on the OSA (Optical Society of America) website.

How OFS Makes Fiber

Interesting YouTube video on how fiber is made. Perhaps a little too much "show biz" but fascinating. If you have ever seen fiber manufacture, look at this video. You will be amazed at how big preforms have become!

How Nexans Makes Copper Cables - compare the process to fiber - don't most of the machines look similar?

The True Cost of Telco Damages (what backhoe fade or target practice can cost)

Rural Electric Cooperatives: Pole Attachment Policies and Issues, June 2019.

Clearfield-FOA Certification Training Clearfield is now offering their customers an FOA CERTIFICATION course. This course provides a basic understanding of fiber optic technology, as well as Clearfield product knowledge and how Clearfield’s integrated product systems work together in a fiber network.

Substandard Contractors - Fiber Optic Knowledge Doesn't Always Trickle Down  (EC Mag)

Another Source Of Articles On Fiber

FOA President and editor of this newsletter Jim Hayes has also been writing a column in Electrical Contractor Magazine for almost 20 years now. Electrical contractors do lots of fiber work and this column has covered some topics they are interested in including installation processes, network design, fiber applications and a lengthy series on dark fiber - what it is, how's its used and how it benefits the growth of communication. A recent web site redesign makes it easier to browse all these articles - just go to and you can see all of them.


When readers ask us questions, we genrally refer them to FOA resources where they can find the answer to their question and many more. We first send them to the FOA Guide which is the table of contents for the FOA technical resources. There they can find pages indexed by topic and a search engine for the FOA website. It also links them to FOA videos and courses on our free online learning site Fiber U.

The FOA Fiber FAQs Page (FAQs = frequently asked questions) gathers up questions readers have asked us (which first ran in this newsletter) and adds tech topics of general interest.

Good Question!

Tech Questions/Comments From FOA Newsletter Readers 

June 2022

Differences in OTDR Traces
What causes the differences in otdr traces for fibre cores that are in the same cable?
A: Several things can cause the fibers  in a cable to have differences in their OTDR traces:
Differences in fiber from different production batches including fiber that may come from different preforms.
Differences in stress on the fiber caused by inconsistent cable design and manufacture
Of course differences in splices including stress on fibers in a splice closure and terminations including stress on fibers in racks and panels.

"Mining" Cables In Data Centers
Q: Is there any documentation out there on best practices for DC cable mining? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
A: This has been a topic in premises cabling since first proposed by NFPA  for the NEC twenty years ago. FOA has gotten this kind of question before for many different circumstances, but I must admit that I know of no recommended procedures or standards for the removal of abandoned cable.

Cable “mining” often refers to the removal of underfloor cable, may apply to cables in trays and is hard to get information online - search for “Cable mining” and you get links to sellers of cables designed to be installed in mines (coal, salt, minerals, etc.) underground!

The biggest problem with removing unused cables is identifying the cables to remove. Underlloor cables are particularly bad, it seems, since you have generations of abandoned cables, often poorly marked, sometimes mixed with power cables. With metallic cables, you can sometimes use an ancient telephone tool, a “toner” to trace cables, With fiber you just have to be careful that you identify the cable before you cut.
It’s always better to remove small sections, especially if you can tug on the cable and verify it each time before cutting. We’ve seen photos of an early data center with cable trays 2 feet deep by 4 feet wide full of about 4,000 fiber optic cables. After seeing that you understand why the new high fiber count cables (1728, 34456 and 6912 fibers) are desirable!

Calibration of Fiber Optic Power Meters
Q: Why does this tester sold so cheap show the same value for 1310 and 1550?

Power meter calibration
A:  We’ve purchased and tested several of these inexpensive meters based on questions from our instructors and readers. They have a similar “feature” - they are not calibrated to international standards of optical power, so when you measure dBm, the result at any wavelength may vary considerably from a meter by a major manufacturer who does calibrate properly.

However, these meters have a menu item that allows you to calibrate them yourself. We've calibrated all the ones we tested to match our calibrated instruments and after that they work OK.

Interestingly, they show loss as negative dB, which is how we think it should be. Some large, famous manufacturers manipulated the standards to make loss a positive number, so if you measure gain, it is considered a fault.   

May 2022
Designations For Fibers
I'm currently working on a project involving optical fiber with VMS signs, CCTV cameras and other ITS equipment. I was wondering if there is a standard or a good practice which describe the typical assignation for each optical fiber on a 6 fibers cable for example?  By that, I mean :
- fibers number 1 and 2 : VMS;
- fibers number 3 and 4 : CCTV;
- fibers number 5 and 6 : spares
There are several ways people assign polarity on duplex links. The way you suggest is the most common I believe. Use the odd number fibers to transmit in one direction, even number fibers to transmit in the other direction and document the color codes.

Storing Fiber Optic Cable On Reels
is there a "standard" for how to store a fiber optic cable reel?
A: This is another detail that has not in my knowledge ever been included in a standard. However manufacturers usually put a note on the reel to keep it upright - standing on the edges of the spool sides, not flat on one side of the spool.  If the fiber is to be stored for a period of time, it should be stored in a cool dry place and the ends sealed with electrical tape.
(Photo storing cable on reel)

Optical Power Of FTTH Signals
I wanted to know on a fiber to home what is the optimal signal strength  I should receve at? I have a leg that is 21 km long I receive at 1490 at -22 dBm is that to low, everything looks good on my traces
A: The specifications for GPON are here.
The standard for GPON calls for receiver power at -13dBm max to -28dBm minimum, so -22 dBm is OK.

April 2022

850 LED Test Source
Q: I need to test multimode fiber at 850 nm but sources are hard to find and expensive. Can I use a laser?
A: Multimode fibers should be tested with an LED. Lasers have several problems in multimode fiber that may cause untrustworthy readings. The problem is that LEDs are no longer used for transmission systems; every MM system now uses VCSEL transmitters, a surface emitting laser. As a result most LEDs at 850nm for MM have gone out of production. Two engineers I know who have been looking for them say there is now only a few sources and the price is much higher that of a few years ago. We've been buying used test sources on eBay for training.

105 Micron Fiber?
Q: I have a customer asking about 105um fiber. Does it exist? What is it basically used for? After FOA suggested a clarifying question to the customer: The fiber is for Power over Fiber(PoF). The construction is 105um fiber with 125um cladding. The question or assumption would be – The termination would be the same as 50,62.5 or 8.3um with a 125um cladding?
A: The people who do laser surgery and power over fiber use special step index fibers and SMA connectors. The power density can be very high so the heat can build up in the cable. SMA connectors or the metal ferrule swaged-on connectors are often used for their all-metal construction with the ability to withstand heat and sometimes the need to be drilled for special fiber diameters. Because of the high power, the polish needs to be low reflectance, so we’d recommend using a wet polish and end with a very fine polishing film - 0.3 microns or so. Like polishing SM for DWDM.
Cleanliness is very important for these applications. I remember a call from a doctor doing laser surgery who kept ruining cables because they were dirty and the high power literally exploded the dirt and pitted the ends. When that happens, sometimes they can be polished out but often they are ruined. The same thing happened to the 120 inch telescope at Lick Observatory when Joe Wampler tried using it to laser range to the retroreflector Apollo 11 left on the moon. Exploding dust pitted the aluminization on the mirror.

Gel Leaking From cables
Q: We have several instances where gel from inside the fiber optic cable has leaked into the splice closure. I have seen some information about sealing the ends of cables so that this doesn’t happen but cannot find a specific method or procedure for this or what to use for a sealant. Is this something that is common practice for outside plant cables? The gel creates a mess and definitely makes reentry for additional splicing more difficult. If there is a way to prevent or minimize this I would like our technicians to start implementing it.
A: When you install the cable, after inserting the cable in the splice closure and/or the budder tubes in the splice trays, seal the end with silicone RTV adhesive. It needs some time to cure but that should prevent the gel leakage. Or next time, order dry water blocked cable which will not have this problem.

Single Fiber DWDM
Q: Can you do bidirectional links on a single fiber with DWDM? (Dense Wavelength Division Multiplexing)?
A: A company Called Edge Optical Solutions sells multiplexers for bi-directional DWDM on one fiber  by using adjacent wavelength channels for each direction. It is good to ~400km with coherent transceivers but cannot use fiber amplifiers for repeaters.

March 2022

Maximum Fusion Splice Loss
Q: We have set 0.4 dB as our max for all losses per splice and my counterparts argue that customer quality will not suffer with a 1.0db-1.5db loss at a splice. What do you think?
A: We would argue that the issue with high loss splices is more one of reliability. Most fusion splices of singlemode fiber are 0.05 to 0.1 dB A splice that has more than ~0.2dB loss probably has some inclusion (dirt that got on the fiber after cleaving) or an air bubble with means the splice is deficient in strength and may fail over time. If the network is operating at high power with WDM and fiber amplifiers, the inclusions or bubbles may produce heat which can cause failures. At very high speeds or using coherent communications over long lengths, it might affect dispersion.

Another Way Of Expressing dB?
Q: Just wondering what to think about presenting dBm as a percentage of power, using either a linear measurement or quadratic equation ?
I recently came across this article : []  I realise it's Wi-Fi signals here, but can you compare this to anything concerning optical loss or gain , given we're still using dB and dBm ?
A: I had to read this 3 or 4 times to get the idea. Basically he suggests converting dB, a nonlinear log scale, to a linear scale expressed in %. Following his steps (assuming I understand his system) , 100% = 0 dBm (1mw), 90% = -10dBm = 1/10mw  = 10% of the original signal, 80% = -20 dBm = 1/100 mW = 1% of the original signal.. So 80% = 1% of the original signal. And that’s where it seems a bit nonsensical. 70% would be 0.1% of the original signal,,,
We fail to see what this “new math” accomplishes.

OTDR AutoTest
Q: Would we say that OTDR 'Smart' test capabilities are commonplace on newer models or only on some manufacturers meters ?
Maybe it's additional software that can be thought of as an upgrade ?
A: Some form of “auto test” has been available on most OTDRs for 20 years or more. Early versions were not very good; they usually just made a test under some average test conditions and reported the results. Modern OTDRs use more powerful computing power to make several tests and determine which conditions are best for the fiber being tested. By optimizing the range, pulse width, number of averages, etc. it can usually produce fairly good results. We don’t think the cost of the OTDR is an issue for new ones because users expect all of them to have a good auto test function. As to whether an older unit could be upgraded, that would depend on the manufacturer and if they still support that product. An OTDR less than 5 years old should probably be able to be upgraded.

February 2022

MM Splice-on Connector On Singlemode Cable
I encountered a situation where a MM mechanical connector was used on a SM fiber and passed on an OTDR test. The client and I are interested in understanding how these connectors could have passed?
The joint between a multimode and singlemode fiber should have vrey high loss, ~17-20 dB, depending on the mode fill of the MM fiber. However the short length of the MM fiber, ~10mm, might not be enough to cause the modes to fill in the short fiber in the connector, resulting in relatively low loss.
Eric Pearson, one of the most knowledgeable people on connectors expressed this idea then tested it with 100m singlemode connected to a second singlemode cable. The second singlemode cable has an OM3 LC unicam connector, An EXFO ftb-400 OTDR indicates a 2.09 dB drop. That is way too much to pass a test but nowhere near the loss that could be expected from the MM/SM joint. See the OTDR trace above.

November/December 2021

Fiber Optic Color Codes Reference Chart
Q: Has anyone made a fiber optic pocket reference chart that has cable color orders, frequencies, or other commonly used info on it?
A: The FOA has a page on its Online Guide that covers color codes ( It is the most popular page in the FOA Guide! It works great with a smartphone.

Underground Utilities Location
Q: From an OSP engineer: Is there a resource for underground utilities that we could use on our engineering designs? I know some counties offer this info but is there a single resource for all?
A: If you are in the US, the Common Ground Alliance (  , is a resource for designers and contractors looking for information on underground utilities. Their “CGA Best Practices” ( is the best reference for damage prevention.
Otherwise, the local authorities and utilities are the best source. The department that issues permits is usually the place to start.
Even with that information, it is recommended that the contractor do their own search using underground locating equipment before digging.
You may find this page in the FOA Guide on underground cable construction useful. ( )

Q: What is the importance of reflectance and all the other numbers in installing and trouble shooting a fiber circuit?
A: Reflectance has always been a secondary issue to connection loss but has some important issues that need consideration. There are two basic issues with reflectance, affecting with the output of laser transmitters and creating background “noise” in a fiber link.
Reflectance can interact with the laser chip itself, causing laser transmitters nonlinearities or random fluctuations in the output. The background noise is a secondary issue, but can be seen in ghosts in an OTDR trace. The light bouncing back and forth in the fiber that causes ghosts will be added to the signal at the receiver end, adding noise to the actual signal. Both these effects are more significant on shorter links, for example FTTH or LANs using PONs (passive optical networks). We always recommend using APC (angled physical contact) connectors on short SM links. And most short SM networks do use APC connectors.
FOA tries to stick to the definition that reflectance is the light reflected from a connection but some others call it “return loss.” Return loss has been defined generally as the combination of reflectance and backscatter from the fiber, and that’s how OTDRs measure return loss. Standards vary in the definition sometimes.
Here is a FOA Guide page on reflectance that gives the basics and explains how it is tested.

More Q&A in the FOA FAQs Page  



The word on the "Dig Once" program is getting out - FOA is getting calls from cities asking us for information and advice. Here are some links:

The DoT page on the administration’s Executive Order:
From the Council of State governments:
From the city of San Francisco:
An article about Dakota County, MN:

And the one to download and hand out:
A “How To” Guide from The Global Connect Initiative:

Is There A Standard For Fiber Optic Installation?

Another question we get often is "Is there a standard for fiber optic installation." The answer is yes, but not from the usual standards groups you might expect. Over 20 years ago, the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) asked FOA to help create a standard for installation. That standard, ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 has been updated three times already and is about ready for another update.

Unlike most of those groups who charge you a fortune for standards, FOA covers the cost so
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 is available free from FOA.

                        301 Fiber Optic Installation Standard

Download your free copy of
ANSI/NECA/FOA-301 here (PDF)

Older questions are now available here.

/ FiberU

News and resources to help you learn more and stay updated.

Find a listing of all the FOA-Approved schools here.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.
Free online training at Fiber U

The FOA has >100 videos on videos 

FOA Network Of Approved Schools Continues To Grow

The need for more fiber optic networks to support broadband and wireless/5G networks has led to a strong demand for more trained and FOA-certified techs, and that has led to a demand for more training organizations. FOA has been adding new schools and certifying new instructors to meet the demand. Here are two new schools this month and more added recently.

New this month:
Western Wyoming Community College, FOA Approved School #401

Schools added recently:
Arrow For Engineering #774, Amman, Jordan
Team Fishel #399, Virginia

School 398, Telecom Tech, Colorado
School 396 Optconn, Boston, MA
School 395 Fiber Wizards (Knowledge on Demand LLC)
School 393, Carolina's Solution Group
School 394, Tri-County Career Center, Nelsonville, Ohio
School 388:  Global Com of Sterling, Virginia, USA
School 389. CWA-JATC Telecom Training Center, San Jose, CA
School 390  Northern Allied Communications, Nespelem, WA
School 391  Lewis-Clark State College, Lewiston, ID
School 392  Wallace Community College, Dothan, AL

Complete listing of FOA Approved Training Organizations

Need A Fiber Optic Course Onsite? Invite an FOA School To Come To You

FOA often gets inquiries from an organization that has personnel that needs training in fiber optics. Recent inquiries have included contractors, a manufacturer of high-reliability products using fiber optics and a cable manufacturer. In many cases, where there are several people needing training, FOA can recommend a FOA Approved School and Certified Instructor who will come to their location to teach a class. The advantage  is of course the savings in travel costs if the class comes to you, but it also offers the opportunity to customize the course to fit your needs, even use your equipment or work on your components, so the training is more relevant to those taking the class.

Contact FOA to discuss the idea of a custom, on-site class to see if it will better meet your needs.

FOA/Fiber U On-The-Job Training (OJT) Program

The FOA Fiber U OJT program combines online study at Fiber U with OJT with mentoring by experienced co-workers and their supervisor to help new employees develop into FOA-certified technicians in only one year.  Upon completion of this program, the trainee will be prepared to take the exam for the FOA CFOT (Certified Fiber Optic Technician) and/or CPCT (Certified Premises Cabling Technician), the most widely recognized fiber optic and premises cabling certifications in the industry.


The FOA Fiber U “OJT-To-Cert” program  includes both fiber optics and premises cabling (copper, fiber & wireless), so it covers techs working in both outside plant and premises jobs. 

Like other FOA programs, the OJT-To-Cert program is free. If you and/or your company is interested in the FOA OJT-To-Cert program, contact FOA.

To explain how OJT works and FOA's OJT-To-Cert program, FOA created a short 10 minute YouTube video that explains what OJT is, who uses it and how to use Fiber U to organize and enhance OJT for new employees and experienced workers too. Lecture 62: On The Job Training For Fiber Optics Using Fiber U     

FOA "Work-To-Cert" Program

Experience Plus Online Study At Fiber U = FOA Certification

More techs have become comfortable with online conferences, webinars and training. Many have discovered that they can become FOA Certified using their experience in fiber optics and study for the FOA certification exams online at Fiber U. Thousands of industry professionals have applied to the FOA directly for certification without the need for classroom training, based on their knowledge and skills developed working the field. Since FOA certifications are based on KSAs (knowledge, skills and abilities), current techs already show the skills and abilities required through their field experience. FOA provides free online self-study courses at Fiber U for the knowledge part to prepare you for FOA certification exams which you can also take online.

If you are an experienced field tech interested in certification, and FOA is the internationally recognized certifying body for fiber optics, you can find out more about the FOA "Work to Cert" program here.

If you are already a CFOT, FOA also offers many specialist certifications you can obtain based on your experience as a field tech. See what's available at
Fiber U.

Fiber U "Basic Fiber Optics" Online Self-Study Course Now In Spanish

El curso de autoaprendizaje en línea "Fibra óptica básica" de Fiber U ahora en español

El sitio de aprendizaje en línea de FOA, Fiber U, tiene más de dos docenas de cursos de autoaprendizaje gratuitos sobre fibra óptica y cableado de instalaciones. Como era de esperar, el tema más popular es el curso "Fibra óptica básica", que se utiliza para iniciarse en la fibra óptica y como curso de preparación para realizar el examen de certificación FOA CFOT.

Ahora el curso básico de fibra óptica está disponible en español, utilizando el libro de texto FOA en español, la sección de la Guía en línea en español y la capacidad de YouTube para traducir subtítulos de video al español. El curso funciona exactamente como la versión en inglés con 10 lecciones, cada una con cuestionarios y una opción para tomar un examen de Certificado de finalización.

Para presentar el nuevo curso de español Fiber U, el examen Certificate of Completion es gratuito, así que dígaselo a sus contactos.

Curso Básico de Fibra Óptica de Fibra U en español.

New Fiber U Course: Fiber Characterization 

FOA has added a new course at Fiber U on Fiber Characterization. Fiber characterization is the process for testing long fiber cable plants for its ability for carrying high speed communications. With so many networks now operating at 100, 200, 400 or even 800 Gb/s, fiber characterization is important, especially on older fiber optic cable plants.The free Fiber U Fiber Characterization course is available in two forms, as a standalone Fiber U fiber Characterization Course with its own Fiber U Certificate of Completion and as a separate Lesson in the Fiber U Fiber Optic Testing course. This course is recommended for those studying for the FOA CFOS/FC Fiber Characterization certification.

Fiber U MiniCourses: Got An Hour Or Less? Learn Something New About Fiber Optics.

FOA has introduced a new type of Fiber U course, the MiniCourse, a free online course you could take in a short time, perhaps as you ate lunch at your desk or took a coffee break. The topics of these courses should explain what they are about, and these are all very important topics to fiber optic techs.

Fiber Optics In Communications  

How Optical Fiber Works 

Fiber Optic Network Restoration 

Fiber Optic Connector Identification

Fiber U Color Codes 

The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics

Fiber Optic Cable Bend Radius

Fiber Optic Link Loss And Power Budgets

Fiber Optic Connector Inspection And Cleaning

Fiber Optic Media Conversion  

Fiber Optic Cable Midspan Access  

Reading An OTDR Trace  

Reference Cables For Testing

Fiber Optic Attenuators

The courses have two components, video lectures and readings, that are complementary. As usual there is a self-test to allow you to check your comprehension. As with other Fiber U courses if you desire, you can take a short test for a Fiber U Certificate of Completion that costs
only $10.

All these free courses and many more are available at Fiber U.

What Fiber Techs Don't Know -

What We Learn From FOA Certification Tests

As FOA moves more testing over to our digital online testing system at ClassMarker, we have access to more data about our testing, including what questions and topics on the tests are answered incorrectly most often. Having this data gives us an opportunity to evaluate the questions and how they are stated, but more importantly it allow us to help our instructors teach the subjects and us to change our curriculum and online courses to emphasize these particular topics. These are some of the topics that we have noticed are answered incorrectly more often in FOA and Fiber U tests.

Most of the questions missed are on testing.

1. OTDRs - particularly what information is in the OTDR trace.

2. The difference between dB and dBm

3. Loss budgets - both the concepts and doing the math

4. Insertion loss testing - single-ended or double ended for testing patchcords or cable plants, how to set 0dB references

5. Units of measure - fiber is measured in microns, wavelengths in nanometers, etc.

At FOA, we're working to add Fiber U MiniCourses on these topics and working with our schools to emphasize these topics in their classes.

If you are going to be taking a FOA certification course or test in the near future, these topics should be on your final exam study list.

What We Learn From Hands On Labs
We learn about students performance in hands-on labs from the feedback of our instructors and our own experiences too. One big problem is the use of hand tools. Growing up today, you learn how to use keyboards, mouses and touch screens, but decades ago, you also learned how to use basic hand tools. This is big enough of a problem that we're considering adding some video lessons on basic hand tools to prepare students for cable prep, termination and splicing that require the use of hand tools.

FOA Guide "Basics Of Fiber Optics" Now Available Online in Portuguese (6/2020)

                            Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book

FOA has now translated the Basics of Fiber Optics textbook in our Online Guide into Portuguese, joining Spanish and French translations. For those speaking Portuguese, we have the technical information and for schools we also have curriculum available.

Here is the FOA Guide in Portuguese, Spanish and French translations.

Time To Learn - Online

Some schools have been closed during the pandemic, so FOA has been working with them to create new online learning experiences that can in some cases lead to certification online. FOA certifications are still based on the KSAs - knowledge from the classroom, skills from the labs and abilities judged by instructors or proven by actual experience.

Much of what we're doing benefits from the capabilities of "Zoom." Others have created videoconferencing apps, but none work so well, especially with limited bandwidth. We've seen remote labs that have an instructor showing students how to use the tools they were sent then watching them duplicate their actions. We have worked out methods to use Zoom to proctor FOA's online certification exams.

Blended Learning
While most FOA schools have suspended in-person training during this period, some are offering a "blended learning" option. That means that students sign up for a FOA certification course, take the classroom sessions on Fiber U with the assistance of a FOA certified instructor. Now online instruction can include reviewing the labs using the
Fiber U Basic Skills Labs, then when it's possible to attend classes at the school, complete the hands-on labs and take the FOA certification exam.

Offline Fiber U
FOA has also created offline Fiber U modules to allow students with poor or limited Internet access to use the Fiber U Basic Fiber Optics and Premises Cabling programs without Internet access. Contact FOA for information on using this option.

Online Remote Labs
Alternatively, some schools are experimenting with "remote labs," where the students get sent tool kits and components and labs are conducted by videoconferencing. Before the labs, the students may watch demos by their instructor on videoconferencing and/or review the relevant "virtual hands-on" lessons in the Fiber U
Fiber Optics Basic Skills Labs  so they will already know the steps in the exercises.
And Fiber U has the new Fiber U DIY Basic Skills Lab lesson with directions on how to purchase inexpensive tools online and use them to learn basic fiber optic skills. Videoconferencing allows the instructor to remotely monitor their work and provide help as needed. Contact the FOA for more information.

FOA Zoom Exam Proctoring

Online Certification Testing
FOA has all its certification tests available online, both for use by our schools and by our direct "Work to Cert" applicants. All FOA certification tests require a proctor to oversee the applicant taking the exam. In this time of social distancing, getting a proctor can be difficult, so FOA now has procedures for online proctors administering the exam.
Contact the FOA for more information.
OJT - On-The-Job-Training
Many novices get a job and learn on the job. They usually have an experienced tech who helps them gain the knowledge and  learn the skills they need to perform their job. Thinking about this in relation to the 
FOA KSAs, the knowledge, skills and abilities needed by a fiber optic tech,  the tech will learn skills but not the basic knowledge that helps them understand the processes involved. FOA can offer help here with our
FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program, using our Fiber U online self-study programs. While the tech learns on the job, they become a Fiber U trainee, getting the knowledge they need, while working under their "mentor" at work. This is particularly good for contracting companies who need techs but do not have the usual training courses available. Interested in OJT programs? Click on the link below or contact FOA for more information.

FOA's OJT-to-Cert Program

FOA offers free online self-study programs at Fiber U. Many users are preparing for FOA certification programs - taking courses at our schools or using the "Work-to-Cert" program. Some of our schools are requiring Fiber U programs as prerequisites for their classroom courses so they can spend more time on hands-on activities.

FOA School Offers Toolkit With Online Training

Slayton tool

Slayton Solutions (FOA Approved School #156) is offering a simple fiber optic tool kit that includes a 29-piece set of fiber optic tools and a power meter along with training videos and online instruction for only $499. 29 Piece Kit includes all tools and devices a technician needs to install fiber optic connectors and test optical power.  Information on the kit is available on YouTube. You can contact them for more information at or

/ Resources


Planning A Fiber Optic Project?

The FOA Guide To Fiber Optic Projects includes this timeline and comments on project planning and implementation.

More New FOA Video Lectures On YouTube

Did you know YouTube will close caption videos in many languages? Here are directions.

FOA YouTube Video Describes On-The-Job Training (OJT) 

Lecture 62: On The Job Training For Fiber Optics Using Fiber U
To explain How OJT works and FOA's OJT-To-Cert program, FOA created a short 10 minute YouTube video that explains what OJT is, who uses it and how to use Fiber U to organize and enhance OJT for new employees and experienced workers too.

More New Videos Including FTTH Series
As part of developing the new Fiber U MiniCourses, we added several new YouTube videos:

Lecture 56 explains the issues of cable bend radius limitations, typical cable specifications and how to gage the proper radius or diameter when installing or storing cable. Lecture 57 covers problems with dirty connectors and how to inspect and clean them.

4 New Lectures on FTTH - #63-66  Plus #70 on Rural Broadband

New Lecture on Fiber Optics at Electrical Utilities - #67

FOA Lecture 51 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 1 - Causes of Damage To The Network  
FOA Lecture 52 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 2 - Planning For Restoration 
FOA Lecture 53 Fiber Optic Restoration Part 3 - Troubleshooting And Repair
FOA Lecture 54 Fiber Optic Connector Identification - New and old
FOA Lecture 55 The Mysterious dB of Fiber Optics. - Understanding dB 
FOA Lecture 56 Fiber Optic Cable - Bend Radius -  Important for Installers to Understand
FOA Lecture 57 Fiber Optic Connector Inspection and Cleaning -  Most Connection Problems Are Caused By Dirty Connectors
FOA Lecture 58 Fiber Optic Media Conversion  - Copper To Fiber Made Easy
FOA Lecture 59 Fiber Optic Cable Midspan Access   - How to drop fibers from a cable with minimal splicing
FOA Lecture 60 How Fiber Works   - Animated explanations of how fiber transmits light
FOA Lecture 61 Fiber Optic Color Codes    
FTTH Series

Like all our YouTube lectures, they are all short and easy to understand.

Did you know YouTube will close caption videos in many languages?

Sign in with Google to get translations for closed captioning. Click on the settings icon (red arrow.) Choose "Subtitles".  English is the default language. Click on the arrow after "English (auto-generated) >". In the new window click on "Auto-translate" and choose the language you want. 

FOA Loss Budget Calculator On A Web Page 5/2020

FOA has written many articles about loss budgets, something everyone involved in fiber optics needs to know and needs to know how to calculate. We recently discovered how to get a spreadsheet ported to a Web page, so we created this web page that calculates loss budgets. We have an iOS loss budget app, but with this web page, you can calculate loss budgets from any device, smart phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer that has web browsing capability.

FOA Loss Budget Calculator 

Bookmark this page (especially on your smartphone): FOA Loss Budget Calculator Online

                      Guide We are continually updating the Online Reference Guide to keep up with changes in the industry and adding lots of new pages of technical information. When you go to the FOA Guide Table of Contents to see the latest updates - look for New.

Recent updates:

FTTH Updates: Added a section on FTTH Network Design, updated Architecture and PONs (10G)
Color Codes For Fiber Optics  

Fiber Optic Projects - the FOA Guide to projects from concept to operation

Coherent Communications Systems in the FOA Guide.

Go to  The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

FOA Reference Books


NEW: FOA's FTTH Handbook:
We've gathered all our information on FTTH from the FOA Guide and past issues of the FOA Newsletter and edited it into a 112 page "FTTH Handbook." We even added a section on planning and managing FTTH Projects.
The Fiber Optic Association Fiber To The Home Handbook is available from Amazon in print and Kindle editions.

FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics book FOA
                        text in Spanish FOA Text in French FOA Reference Guide to Premises Cablng
                          book  FOA Reference Guide to OSP Fiber Optics
                          book   FOA
                        Reference Guide to Fiber Optic OSP Construction
                        book  FOA
                        Reference Guide to Fiber Optics Design book FOA Reference Guide to Fiber Optics Testing
                        book  FOA
                        Reference Guide to Fiber Optic OSP Construction
Fiber Optics (4 languages), Premises Cabling, OSP fiber and construction, Network Design, Testing and FTTH

   The FOA has it's own reference books for everyone working in fiber optics - contractors, installers and end users as well as for use as textbooks in classes at educational institutions. They are available as printed books or Kindle at much lower prices than most textbooks since we self-publish and sell online, cutting out the middlemen. Click on the book images for more information. The Reference Guide To Fiber Optics is also available in Spanish and French (print and online) and Portuguese (online only.)

Click on any book for more information about it.

FOA has reprinted

Lennie Lightwave
Lennie Lightwave's Guide" on its 25th anniversary in a special print edition.
Lennie and Uncle Ted's Guides are online or as free iBooks on iTunes.
                        Lightwave's Guide To Fiber Optics   Uncle
                        Ted's Guide to Premises Cablling
Click on any of the books to learn more.

Fiber Optic Safety Poster to download and print

Resources For Teachers In K-12 And Technical Schools
Teachers in all grades can introduce their students to fiber optic technology with some simple demonstrations. FOA has created a page for STEM or STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) teachers with materials appropriate to their classes. Fiber Optic Resources For Teachers.



On Safety

The FOA is concerned about safety!
FOA considers safety an integral part of all our programs, curriculum materials and technical materials. We start all our textbooks and their online versions with a section on safety in the first chapter, like this: Before we get started - Safety First!
There are pages on the FOA Guide on Safety procedures Including Eye Safety  and. Digging Safely 

And a YouTube lecture: FOA Lecture 2: Safety When Working With Fiber Optics
In our OSP Construction Section, these pages cover many safety issues including those related to the construction of the cable plant: Project Preparation And Guidelines, Underground Cable Construction, Underground Cable Installation and Aerial Cable Installation.
There is even a safety poster for the fiber activities: PDF Safety Rules For Fiber Optics
Other Safety Resources:

There is a toll-free "call before you dig" number in the USA: Dial 811. See for more information in the US. Here is their map of resources by states.

In Canada, it's "Click Before You" They also have a page of resources by US states and Canadian provinces.

The Common Ground Alliance has an excellent "Best Practices Guide" online

The US Department of Transportation has a website called "National Pipeline Mapping System" that allows one to search for buried pipelines.   

Why We Warn You To Be Careful About Fiber Shards
fiber in
Photo courtesy  Brian Brandstetter,  Mississauga Training Consultantcy

Safety Leader Magazine

Safety Leader

Safety Leader, a new quarterly magazine, informs and educates electrical contractors on safety from various angles—electrical, workplace, PPE, regulations, leadership, line work, NFPA 70E, and more. Safety Leader is bundled with ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR in February, May, August and November. To receive Safety Leader subscribe to ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR magazine here or subscribe to the ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR newsletter here.

2023 Conference On Damage Prevention In Tampa
Safety Conference

Global Excavation Safety Conference

Tampa, Florida
February 14-16, 2023


The magazine, dp-Pro, sponsor of the conference, has also published it's latest issue with an article by FOA on "New Construction Techniques in Fiber Optics" and a overview of the FOA. You can read the magazine here.

When You Bury Marker Tape, Bury One That Will Work (July 2021)


Signaltape® provides a visual warning by ensuring tape is brought to the surface, alerting the operator to the presence of a buried utility. It includes a 3,000-lb. tensile strength aramid fiber membrane, which ensures the tape is pulled to the surface to alert the excavation crew. Signaltape comes in two sizes: 12″ x 1000′ or 6″ x 1000′.

FOA Corporate Members - Products & Services

List of corporate member information provided by FOA corporate members listed on the FOA website.


About The FOA

Contact Us: or email <>

FOA on LinkedIn

FOA has a company page and four LinkedIn Groups

FOA - official company page on LinkedIn
FOA - covers FOA, technology and jobs in the fiber optic marketplace

FOA Fiber Optic Training - open to all, covers fiber optic technology and training topics

Grupo de La Asociación de Fibra Óptica FOA (Español)  

What is The FOA? 

The FOA is a, international non-profit educational association chartered to promote professionalism in fiber optics through education, certification and standards. 

Founded in 1995 by a dozen prominent fiber optics trainers and  leaders from education, 
industry and government as a professional society for fiber optics and a source of independent certification, the FOA has grown to now being involved in numerous activities to educate the world about fiber optics and certify the workers who design, build and operate the world's fiber optic networks.

Read More  

FOA History  

FOA Timeline of Fiber Optics  

FOA was 25 years old July 2020 - Read about FOA's history

Learn More About FOA's History.

Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>

The FOA Home Page

FOA Guide
Want to know more about fiber optics? Study for FOA certifications? Free Self-Study Programs are on "Fiber U®." Looking for specific information? Here's the largest technical reference on the web: The FOA Online Fiber Optic Reference Guide.

Free online self-study programs on many fiber optics and cabling topics are available at Fiber U, FOA's online web-based training website.


Contact Us
The Fiber Optic Association Inc. or email <>
Phone: 1-760-451-3655

The FOA Home Page

Fiber Optic Timeline  

(C)1999-2022, The Fiber Optic Association, Inc.

 FOA Logo Merchandise

New FOA Swag! Shirts, Caps, Stickers, Cups, etc.
FOA T Shirt
The FOA has created a store on offering lots of new logo merchandise. It has lots of versions of shirts and other merchandise with "FOA," "Fiber U," "Lennie Lightwave" designs and more so you should find something just for you! See FOA on Zazzle.

Your Name, CFOT® - It pays to advertise!

The FOA encourages CFOTs to use the logo on their business cards, letterhead, truck or van, etc. and provides logo files for that purpose. But we are also asked about how to use the CFOT or CFOS certifications. Easy, you can refer to yourself as "Your Name, CFOT" or "Your Name, CFOS/T" for example.

Feel free to use the logo and designations to promote your achievements and professionalism!

Contact FOA at to get logos in file format for your use.

Privacy Policy (for the EU GDPR): The FOA does not use cookies or any other web tricks to gather information on visitors to our website, nor do we allow commercial advertising. Our website hosts may gather traffic statistics for the visitors to our website and our online testing service, ClassMarker, maintains statistics of test results. We do not release or misuse any information on any of our members except we will confirm FOA certifications and Fiber U certificates of completion when requested by appropriate persons such as employers or personnel services.
Read the complete FOA Privacy Policy here.